Sunday, January 06, 2008

Beverly Hills Cop and Framing Blackness

Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop is the epitome of what audiences want to see in a funny, goofy cop movie: a low class, street smart, wise cracking cop thrown into a new territory to fend for himself and create mischief, saving the day along the way. The fact that he is a black man, who is overcoming his status as an outsider in the predominately white-populated aristocracy of Beverly Hills, is satisfying for both black and white audience members. The film shows us a black man who is never out of his comfort zone, speaks out and loudly to get what he wants, and laughs at himself and the idiocy of his two BHDP tailers, Taggart and Rosewood. When troublesome situations arise Axel has much to say about his blackness, using it to reinforce his status as an outsider in the town (getting a room and a low rate) but also as an reason for his brazen actions and his easygoing nature (comment about what brothers know to the new 2 cops who come to tail him). As the lead character, Axel demonstrates a domination over white oppression in everything he does, continuously disobeying the orders of the lieutenant and the wishes of his sidekick cops to get what he wants, revenge against his friend's killers. Along the way Axel teaches the two cops how to let loose, live a little and how to spot suspicious crooks. The film certainly has the tack record of being a 'buddy cop film' but in the end the cops form a rather flimsy bond over their adventures, not necessarily giving the film the potential for another to be rivaled as equal to the wiles of Axel Foley. The film's blatant waving of race in our faces is what makes the film both entertaining yet distressing, considering how far we have come since the history of film began. By the way, electronic synthesizers should be in every cop film, it certainly makes you take them more seriously :)


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